WP_20151222_14_43_59_ProHere, you will find links to some reviews of and comments on our books.

Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff, (limited edition, 2016) reviews and comments

Stephanie Smee has done the first new English translation in a hundred years of a French popular classic, Mikhail Strogoff by Jules Verne…A beautiful limited edition book…‘ (Susan Wyndham, Undercover column, Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald, February 13-14, 2016.)

This limited edition illustrated printing of the classic story tells the tale of young Mikhail’s urgent and secret mission to warn the royal court of impending danger, and his brave friend Nadia, who is as indomitable as he is. Full of adventure, suspense, romance and humour, this English translation will enchant older readers. (Disney Princess Magazine, Bauer Media, March 20 2016)

A terrific adventure in a lovely edition.  Christmas Press reminds me why I love books. (Writer Anthony Horowitz)

Stunning and important..Mikhail Strogoff must be the most beautiful book published in Australia this century. (Bernadette Foley, editor, publishing expert, and founder of the Big Country Book Club)

The book reaches Folio Society standards of production.. It is a beautiful object befitting a book of this vintage. If you love books for being beautiful objects, then this is a no-brainer. If you want a good read, well, it’s Jules Verne, so ’nuff said. (Writer, artist and publisher Bruce Mutard)

I read Mikhail Strogoff and it was amazing! I loved it so much! It was incredibly detailed, and the adventure was great. You also got to learn so much about the characters. (Tom, 11, Boston, USA)

It’s a gorgeous little book with the traditional built-in book mark and internal art of the old style, the kind you see in nineteenth century editions, done by the wonderful David Allan, who, I hope, might one day illustrate something of mine…. Well, I can dream. He seems to be able to adapt his style to whatever the book requires. The endpapers are maps of Russia and the pages are gilt-edged. A thing of beauty...(Sue Bursztynski, writer and reviewer)
Such a truly beautifully presented, illustrated and charmingly translated book – what a wonderful achievement to bring this much- loved staple of European childhood to the English-speaking world! (Ursula Dubosarsky, writer)
Congratulations Stephanie Smee & David Allan on your gorgeous Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff ! Eagle Books, this is divine! (Lisa Stewart, illustrator)
Gorgeous, well done to all of you! (Eva Mills, children’s publisher, Allen and Unwin)
Yesterday I opened a parcel to discover my truly beautiful hardcover edition on ‘Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff’ from Eagle Books. Thank you for publishing the first English translation, by Aussie Stephanie Smee, in over 100 years! (Lindy Cameron, publisher, Clan Destine Press)
 Jack of Spades (2017), reviews and quotes:
(Shortlisted for Davitt Award, 2018)
‘Nobody weaves history, romance and adventure like Sophie Masson’ (Anthony Horowitz)
This thrilling book is just right for curling up on the lounge to read. It has so many twists, turns and unexpected surprises that it’s hard to keep up. It kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story. I highly recommend that you put it on your next book list! (Four and a half starred review, Good Reading magazine, June 2017)

An entertaining spy story with a determined heroine at its centre…This is an interesting period of history and Sophie Masson has done her research well. (Magpies magazine, March 2017)

Rosalind Duke is just the kind of plucky heroine I love at the centre of my historical fiction. She’s happy to step outside the social norms of her time and she keeps a cool head about her in thrilling circumstances. And there are plenty to be found in this fast-paced adventure. Sophie Masson is a champion at weaving intrigue and adventure with strong, memorable characters and a touch of romance. (Kids’ Book Review, April 19, 2017)

Recommended for older YA readers this is a carefully-crafted, well-written and fast-paced thriller that involves a young sixteen-year old bilingual English girl who travels to France to help her hapless (she thinks) Shakespearian-scholar father who seems to be calling out to her. Instead, she finds herself befriended by a handsome hero, ensconced in a guesthouse full of young people from different backgrounds, and, ultimately, involved in a strange tale of espionage with nothing less than nihilistic threats to the stability of Europe at stake by assassinations of its leaders. Within this set up Linda happens upon people murdered, betrayals, suspicion, suspense, the usual inscrutable British handlers, and assorted odd and engaging characters. She shows huge resourcefulness and resilience, loyalty and good sense, and is overall a great role model for modern women, although they might not ever have to deal with spy rings. It is a real page turner and if the end is just a little predictable well, surprise endings in novels as in life are not always all they are cracked up to be. Along the way are vignettes of Parisian life and a lot of action and a bit of romance which all add up to a jolly good read. (Sisters in Crime website review, 2018)

The Lighthouse at Pelican Rock (2018), reviews:
This book really intrigued me. I am not usually a fan of time travel but this book was certainly a winner. Hart has cleverly woven the past with the present and allows Megan to move effortlessly between the two worlds. She develops a beautiful relationship with her aunt and finally finds the love that she has craved. Megan connects with a number of characters in the small town, all for various reasons. This allows her to make strong connections to the town and its goings on. Themes such as friendship, family dynamics and mystery are delved into. There are lots of smaller story lines that are interwoven in the story and it is intriguing to try and match them all together. It certainly kept me turning the pages. I would recommend this book for children 11 and up as some of the storyline can be quite complex. A welcome addition to the collection. (Read Plus, June 15 2018)

Staying with Aunt Rachel, Megan learns acceptance. What she has always believed is now a certainty. Her mother is not interested in her at all. Her entire focus is on her talented younger brother’s needs and her expectations of him. As for Megan’s father, his indifference towards her is painful even to the reader. This acceptance nurtures Megan’s inquiring character. She takes an interest in the old lighthouse and its many hidden secrets. There is something magical and mysterious about it and the lighthouse keeper, whose journals Megan is given access to.  The strange pelican that visits her creates a life-changing shift for a young girl who finally finds herself, and her place in the world, in the strangest manner.

There are many sub-stories built into a storyline that keeps the reader engaged from beginning to end. Terrific characters, tension, and well-paced progress, added to lots of unexpected turn-offs through the plot, kept me longing to know what the outcome will be. Then came the completely unexpected ending! (Kids’ Book Review, June 17, 2018)

Tomodachi: The Forest of the Night(2019), reviews:

Simon Higgins, a former police office and private investigator specializing in murder cases, and one of the world’s best martial artists (in the sword art of Iaido), is as it happens also a novelist of meticulous and respectful detail. His new novel is set in a fanciful historical Japan, and it comes with a long glossary at the end which introduces readers to many terms that are important to Japan’s history, its culture and the popularization of art forms such as Manga and Anime.

‘Tomodachi’ means ‘friends’, and the novel revolves around the exploits and journey of three friends. One of them, Daniel Marlowe, a noble-born citizen of the court of Henry the Eight’s Tudor England, is a survivor from a shipwreck; another is a young woman, Otsu-san whose only possession in the world is a doll that has been inhabited by Chiyo, a small god who can answer most questions mortals need to ask about the coming future and present dangers. The third member of this wandering group is Kenji-san, a samurai warrior of great skill, intelligence and wisdom…..This is a novel that will take you deep into another world. Recommended for readers from eleven to sixteen years. (Reading Time, February 25, 2019)

A brilliant, atmospheric novel set in old Japan, this book keeps you on the edge of your seat as you follow Daniel, Otsu and Kenji on their dangerous journey in a land haunted by war, rivalries, assassins–and supernatural beings…
The characters are vivid and believable and the action scenes are superb (Customer review, Booktopia)

The Girl in the Mirror (2019) reviews:
Blackford’s prose is silky smooth and the book reads quickly, driven by its fantasy narrative and the way in which historical detail is covered. Though the story has paranormal overtones, shifting as it does between the two narrative timeframes, and featuring a shapeshifting villain and ghosts that move between worlds, The Girl in the Mirror is relevant to a 21st century reader. Of particular appeal is the way Blackford explores the differing mores and norms between the two young women – from Maddy’s scandalously short skirts, to Clarissa’s household duties and restrictions. Maddy and Clarissa are likeable and well-drawn protagonists whose quantum entanglement is handled perfectly, and feels natural. ….The Girl in the Mirror is a delightful book for readers of all ages and can also be read to younger children as  it isn’t too scary and the overall theme is a positive one. Fiona McDonald’s lovely ink illustrations add a lovely touch to the text. I particularly like the little funnel webs at the bottom of some of the pages. The Girl in the Mirror would make a great gift for a young reader, who will find Maddy and Clarissa’s ability to transcend time and work together as a team engaging. (Compulsive Reader, December 13, 2019)

Here is a ghost story and a time slip novel in one. Maddy, in the present, has just moved into an old house with her parents and younger brother. She has started at a new high school and is being picked on mercilessly by the “in” group. To make matters worse, her little brother is now very sick. Clarissa, in 1899, is living in the same house with her father, mother and aunt. Her younger brother and sisters died of whooping cough the previous winter and her mother had not been herself since then. Her aunt is awful, but Clarissa starts to suspect her of more nefarious deeds than unkindness. The two girls are connected by a mirror in the room they occupy in different times, and they use it to communicate. They help each other resolve their respective problems, and together put a stop to Clarissa’s aunt once and for all. This is an engaging, creepy ghost story and will be especially enjoyed by fans of the genre. The characterisation is fairly good but the conversations between the characters don’t quite ring true at times. There are interesting comparisons between life in 1899 and the present, especially the differences for girls and women. Appropriate for upper primary and secondary students. (Reading Time, December 14, 2019)

There is a mystery to be solved and lives to be saved and an evil force to be overcome. This time-shifting tale hooks the reader into the mystery with its clever storytelling. The reader wants to join the girls in their quest to remove the evil that lurks in the shadows of both their lives. Maddy tackles the girls at school and makes friends with Gareth but worries time is running out to save her baby brother Cory who has become ill since moving into the house. The only person she can turn to is Clarissa. Meanwhile, Clarissa’s mother’s health is in serious decline and widowed Aunt Lily seems to control everything and everyone in the house. Her strengthening tonic made from plants in the garden seems to not be working. The two girls must use all their intelligence and work together. But will they succeed?  This is a gripping middle grade novel that is an original and captivating read. (Buzz Words, September 19, 2019)

Reviews for The Phantasmic Detective Agency, by Julian Leatherdale:

I love this book because it is my favorite mixture of elements: tension, magic, fantasy, history and adventure. I think that Julian Leatherdale has written this book very well and the words he has used to describe the characters make me feel as if I am in their world. I could feel the tension building throughout the book and loved it as my mind tried to piece together the puzzle. It almost felt like I was one of the characters. I recommend this book for ages over 9 because of the violence and spookiness. But for any ages older this is the book for you. It can also be read and enjoyed by adults. (Kids’ Book Review, May 13 2020)




4 thoughts on “Reviews

  1. Thankyou for this beautiful little book. I read it slowly, savouring it over a week, enjoying the look and feel of this superb luxurious edition, and of course the wonderful translation and terrific illustrations. What a gem.


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